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Humanities 202 Mid-Term

The Reformation

The 16th century in Europe is marked by Petrarch, Scientific revolution, Machiavelli,

inflow of gold through conquests, Guttenberg printing press and the Renaissance all of which

contributed towards secularization and modernization of European society. But the event

which clearly outshone all these historical landmarks of human evolution is the protestant

reformation.

Arguably the biggest reason behind the notion was the increased dominance of popes

and bishops over the lives of the common men of Europe. Their dictatorship provoked the

free souls and their wealth (generally believed to be accumulated by corruption) envied the

poorer segments of the society.

This incited a feeling of distrust and dislike for the whole of the clergy. The church’s

dogmatism towards inequality of human beings was a reason of general unrest among

masses. The rituals of Christianity were losing people’s interest rapidly. It was in these

circumstances when Martin Luther came forward. He claimed that he was struck by the hand

of God in the form of a bolt of lightening. He was struck by the apparent immoral behavior,

and indifference towards the teachings of Christianity, of priests and cardinals. He marked his

dissatisfaction of the church and its ways by nailing 95 Theses on the Church gate on All

Saints Day. Luther attacked indulgences which were intended to release the sinner from

purgatory before departing to Heaven. He made salvation dependent on one's faith only, and

abolished the need for atonement and a clergy to administer them. Being a protestant allowed
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rich to be salvaged without paying homage to Rome and to the poor it provide dignity and

respect.

John Calvin is believed to be the leader of the second wave of reformation. The

central theme of Calvin’s teachings was man’s helplessness before an Almighty God. He

conjectured that there is no such thing as free will, and man is predestined for either Hell or

Heaven and man cannot do anything to change his destiny.

Counter-Reformation

Around the same time when Protestantism was making inroads swiftly in Europe,

Roman Catholic Church realized the importance of regaining the fields lost to Protestants.

The basis of the Catholic Reformation were on zeal and enthusiasm for the faith, an

identification of abuses in the church and a commitment to the work of reform, and an

outlook of intolerance toward dissent.

One of the signs of the awakening in the church was the establishment of new

religious orders and the reorganization of older ones, who committed themselves to doing

works of charity in hospitals, refuges for prostitutes, orphanages, etc.

Paul III is generally regarded as the first pope of the Catholic Reformation. He made a

commission of nine cardinals to propose ways of reforming the church. The Society of Jesus

or Jesuit order is regarded as the most noteworthy agency of the Catholic reform. It was

formed by St. Ignatius Loyola. Preaching was the fundamental task of Jesuits. They

recommended more regular confession and became famous as confessors and started

performing this function for kings and princes as well.

The Jesuits became the most thriving educators in the church. They were primarily

interested in higher education, and ultimately came to govern many universities and

seminaries. Their teachers tend to be well educated and well prepared, the methods were
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modern, and the training was exceptional, but the syllabus and coaching methods were

devised with a sense of creating committed Catholics.

The other instruments of reformation were Inquisition, Council of Trent and Index of

Forbidden Books had also played their part in the movement. The Counter-Reformation

generally, and the Council of Trent particularly, reinforced the position and image of the pope

and the clergy. The indisputably spiritual brass tacks of these developments could not be

easily overlooked.

The King James Version

After the death of Elizabeth in 1603, James IV of Scotland succeeded to throne as

James I. One of the earliest matters handled by him was the calling of the Hampton Court

Conference, for the investigation, and for identifying the things supposed to be incorrect in

the church, in January 1604. He assembled bishops, priests, clergymen and four Puritan

divines, to mull over the grievances of the Puritans. It is said that Bible revision was

originally not on the meeting’s agenda, but John Reynolds the Puritan president of Corpus

Christi College, told the king that there might be a new translation of Bible, as the ones done

in the periods of Henry VIII and Edward VI were distorted expressions of the Original.

The king ordered for a standardized translation, from the original Greek and Hebrew,

done by the most learned men, reviewed by the Bishops, then presented to the Privy Council

and lastly approved by the Royal authority. He said that only this edition should be read in

the whole Church and others should be abolished.

Work started and four years were taken for the preliminary translation by the fifty

four scholars divided into six groups. Then nine more months were taken for review and

revision of the work at Stationers' Hall, London. It is done by a group of six men two each

from the Westminster, Oxford and Cambridge companies. Final revision was done by

Thomas Bilson and Myles Smith. Smith also provided with the preface.
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From the time of its conception the KJV Bible remained the recognized Bible of the

English-speaking nations all over the world as it was the best of the lot.

Later versions of Bible were eclipsed by KJV and the Authorized Version remained

the Bible until the times of the Revised Version and consequent modern translations. Still it is

accepted by its defenders and recognized by its critics.

Hamlet - The Prince of Denmark

Hamlet is considered as one of the masterpieces by one of the greatest dramatists of

all times William Shakespeare. The exact date of its conception is a matter of controversy

among critics, but the general consensus is that it was written between 1599 and 1601. The

tragedy, complying with the contemporary tastes, narrates the story of the prince of Denmark

whose father, the king, was killed by his uncle Claudius for the throne. Claudius later married

Hamlet’s mother Gertrude as well. The theme of the story revolves around madness (both

real and feigned), springing from immense feeling of grief and uncontrollable rage. The other

discussed themes are treachery, incest, revenge and moral corruption.

Like most of the other Shakesperian works Hamlet cannot be clearly classified as a

tragedy. It has all the necessary elements of an Elizabethan tragedy but still one feels during

its analysis presence of ideas different from elements of traditional tragedies.

Sanity, or the lack of it, in the character of Hamlet has been a question of great debate

among critics of all times. Some believe Shakespeare as a great painter tyranny of nature and

the fate to the mortal man has shown Hamlet a slave of his pre-decided destiny. Some argue

that Shakespeare as a great observer has tried to incorporate the psychological problems of a

tormented soul into his writings and the character of Hamlet was suffering from Mental

disorders.

Another worth mentioning account presented in Hamlet is the greed of money, power

and sex. Human beings from the beginning of times are insatiable by nature. Whether it is the
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act of Claudius killing his own brother for throne or Gertrude marrying Claudius for money

and power, all these examples only strengthens the above mentioned hypothesis of human

hunger for money, power and sex.

Critics had fought battles over the literary themes of the drama but to common

reader/audience, without any doubt whatsoever, Hamlet had been a source of great enjoyment

and enlightenment over the years.

Comparison of Rembrandt and Rubens

Arguably Rembrandt was the greatest Dutch painter ever. Perhaps one of the strengths

of Rembrandt success is his variety. It is noteworthy that collectors reacted to his work

relatively early on. But the best assessment of his genius has been done in the twentieth

century. Rembrandt had the power of deep observation which has allowed him to observe the

world around him more clearly and more knowingly than all of his contemporaries.

Rembrandt’s whole work is full of passion, curiosity and insatiability for new visual

experiences. When Vermeer and Frans Hals were trying to perfect their skills Rembrandt was

trying to find a different solution each time. There is this unmistakable feeling that

Rembrandt was in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction with his work. His likeness for glitter,

fur, gold objects, fancy helmets, embroidery and elaborate costumes in his works is

legendary. A high share of his surviving works are conventional portraits painted on order

and sadly most of the artist’s work, which was a reflection of his inner self, got destroyed by

the cruel hands of the time.

Rubens was a committed Roman Catholic and this was evident from his many

religious paintings with the emotional tone of the Counter-Reformation. His aggressive

religious standpoint and his deep participation in public affairs, gives his work a more

conformist and public touch and the sharp disparity, with the personal and secular paintings

of Rembrandt, becomes more pronounced. But even as his roots are clearly in Italian classical
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art and Roman Catholic Church, Rubens artistically shunned the sterility of repetitive

academic forms by incorporating into his works a vigorous enthusiasm and a frenzied energy.

Tartuffe

A few of the lines from the play itself that best describes the theme and moral of the

play are presented below:

• One is easily fooled by that which one loves.

• Those whose conduct gives room for talk are always the first to attack their

neighbors.

• A woman always has her revenge ready.

• The envious will die, but envy never.

• To sin in private is not a sin.

Tartuffe gives its readers/audience the lesson of valuing his/her family more than the

outsiders, as the whole family shares a common fortune. The other lesson is the blind trust

over the acts and words of people, as Orgon has over Tartuffe that he didn’t give a second

thought to, his own son, Damis’s and his own wife, Elmire’s words.

The most important message Moliere wants to convey is the division of responsibility

and authority among different stakeholders. Even in our common day lives in offices, schools

and houses one experiences such situations where one or more stakeholders are not satisfied

with the division of authority and responsibility.

Orgon’s act of giving all the responsibility along with the authority to Tartuffe was

not well received by his children and wife. One must always keep in mind that for smooth

and successful operations of any organization or an entity (let it be house, office or school) it

is of utmost importance that all the stakeholders do not feel any kind of personal grudges or

hard feelings for each other.
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